Ultrasound for Gallbladder Pain

Ultrasound for gallbladder pain is one of the most common reasons for an ultrasound of the right upper quadrant.  Gallbladder pain occurs because of stones which block the gallbladder and the duct that drains it.   This can also lead to cholecystitis and inflammation of the gallbladder which can be life threatening because of rupture.

What does an ultrasound for gallbladder pain look at?

Ultrasound of the right upper upper quadrant evaluates the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, right kidney and bile duct.  Pain in the right upper abdomen can occur for many reasons related to these organs.  The most common is the gallbladder.   Often this is because of stones in the gallbladder.

Pain from the gallbladder is often evaluated with ultrasound.  The pain may be biliary colic or pain from stones which eventually goes away.  In these cases, the gallbladder will be distended and normal apart from the stones.

What does an ultrasound for gallbladder pain show?

The worst complication of stones is cholecystitis.  This occurs when the gallbladder blockage is not relieved.  There will be persistent abdominal pain with abnormal blood work.  The ultrasound will show findings of cholecystitis.

In the case of cholecystitis, we may see a thickened gallbladder wall.  We see fluid around the gallbladder.  Often there is tenderness when the technologist who does the exam applies pressure to the gallbladder.  The finding on ultrasound are suggestive of cholecystitis.  A surgeon will then have to remove the gallbladder to prevent complications.

The good thing about ultrasound is that we also look at the other organs in the right upper abdomen when we are evaluating gallbladder pain.  This can find other conditions which may be responsible for the pain.

What are some other conditions that can cause gallbladder like pain?

Some of these conditions can include a blocked kidney or hydronephrosis.   Pancreatitis or inflamed pancreas.  Blocked bile duct can also result in pain.  Some conditions of the liver such as hepatitis or tumors can results in pain as well.

Therefore, ultrasound for gallbladder pain is a great test.  It can diagnose the most common cause of pain in the right upper quadrant which is gallbladder stones in my experience .  It can diagnose an inflamed gallbladder or cholecystitis.  Additionally, it is good at detecting other conditions in the right upper abdomen which may mimic gallbladder pain.

Other testing may be needed with CT for some abnormalities.  Your doctor will also use all the available information from lab testing and his history to come up with the best diagnosis and course of action.   Ultrasound is a great test to start investigating gallbladder pain.  It is relatively cheap, quick uses no radiation.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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